Scientists are in the middle of having this really profound, revolutionary revelation: the human body evolved to do the stuff that we used to do a few thousand years ago. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it has a lot of very profound implications for everything from what we eat to how we hurt ourselves.
You see, humankind didn’t evolve in a chair. We built chairs to give our butts a place to go when we wanted to be still for a while — but until the past few hundred years, sitting still was a luxury we rarely had. Even in the Middle Ages, most everyone worked the field, forged the horseshoe nails, or otherwise was on their feet exerting themselves for most of the day. Only since the Internet became the dominant sculptor of daily life do we spend 8+ hours per day on our butts in front of screens, moving our fingers more than we moved any other parts of our body.
What happens when you sit for a long stretch every day for a long stretch of days? Pretty simple: your back muscles atrophy and we forget — literally, our muscles forget — how to stand and walk about correctly. The muscles that we use to stabilize our lower backs wither, and we find that the only things between our butt-bones and our chair is some thin denim…no muscles.
Fortunately, there’s a solution that science has started to see excellent evidence of — if we go back and do the kind of thing we did a few thousand years ago, our bodies will recover. Those muscles re-develop, and as long as we don’t train ourselves to continue our horrible mistakes in posture, we regain almost all of the body mechanics we’re used to.
That’s right — you can walk away your back pain. Studies in Norway revealed an inverse relationship between back pain and physical activity: the more active you are, the less likely you are to report that your back hurts. The study specifically pointed out the degree to which simple walking helps. Even senior citizens who regularly walk report less disability than those who are sedentary.
Of course, if you do manage to develop a postural distortion, you can walk all you want and still end up with a pain in the back. That’s when you need to consult a neuromuscular therapist to perform a posture alignment assessment and suggest some muscle lengthening, strengthening, and endurance-building exercises that help you get your posture back on track. Once you’ve got the right gait and stance, very little beats a simple walk as an excellent treatment for everyday back pain.
Every once in a while, a muscle group won’t respond to the usual exercises — instead, it will quite readily knot itself up into a tight ball of unresponsive pain. If that sounds familiar to you, your therapist may suggest something like a trigger point system to help you ‘unlock’ your pained muscles. With the help of a powerful all natural anti-inflammatory and releasing your trigger points, you’re able to get almost any muscle released and out of pain.
Ultimately the best solution is to consult a qualified Neuromuscular Massage Therapist!